Journals, journals, journals

Galia Alena mixed media art journal

Galia Alena mixed media art journal

Galia Alena mixed media art journal
Here are some recent journal pages from my journal that sadly has only one page left in it. It won't be coming with me as I head off on my adventures in a day. As I finished the coffee pot page above, I felt a sadness not to have this journal with me even as I am excited to be switching gears to be working in a travel journal and so looking forward to seeing what goodness emerges there.
Travel journal, water colours, Galia Alena
 I've made my new travel journal, although the signatures are loose. Unlike when I made my Bali journal (which I knew was going to have a Batik cover, just wasn't sure how the stars were going to align to make that happen) this journal has absolutely no ideas about how its cover might develop. I guess I'll just have to watch and see.
The trickiest part of packing is working out which supplies to take. I'm taking my Polaroid camera as I can't imagine an American road trip without a Polaroid or two and thanks to the Impossible Project that is still possible. Still haven't decided which other camera to take, and as for art supplies, today I decided that despite the fact that I'll be buying supplies as I go I still had to chuck out a pair of shoes or two so as to get in some extra supplies.

First stop Sydney where I get to be a tourist in my home town, hug some girlfriends, and enjoy a gallery crawl.

Adventures in Relaxation: Scenes from Lotus Terrace

Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography
    I’ve been stuck on writing about our time in Samui as I’m not sure I can convey in words just how deeply the place and the pace resonated with me at this particular time in life. Since returning home, I’ve felt out of time, out of sync with myself, a blur scattered between obligations and desires. In Samui there was only the moment, the quiet blissful moments stretched out gloriously in front of me like the sublime calm ocean. Two hours of yoga this morning and I feel a bit like some of the pieces of me have been pulled back into my center as I try to carry the peace of Samui back into my own life.
    You know when your booking a holiday, surfing the net and trying to decipher the photos from what the reality might be like. You don’t know the place your going to, you don’t know the location to stay at. You’ve gotten advice from various people about where to stay but your dubious, you still remember the time that you took the advice of a well meaning friend. No you won’t be making that mistake again. So you study the photos knowing only too well that it is the job of a photographer to lie, so you look for the seams and try to interpret them back to reality.
    What is it you want from your accommodation? Are you planning to spend much time there or is it just going to be a dumping ground for your luggage? Our trip to Samui was planned to be a relaxing, hangout by the beach, do nothing holiday WITHOUT CHILDREN.   A blissful holiday after the exhaustion of the last one where, as much as I loved it, snow and children, well it just ain’t relaxing. So this one was going to be a do nothing, chill, relax, regenerate, daydream, relax, and did I mention relax. So much expectation is invested into your holiday, planning, looking forward to it, etc etc, that you want it to be, you need it to be beautiful, and I’ve had the holiday that you just wanted to leave, to come home. You know, the holiday that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth long after you’ve finally paid it off the credit card.
Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    Well this holiday wasn’t that. This holiday was perfect from the place, the people, the food to the accommodation. Even the airport was perfect, with it’s landscaped runway and buildings that looked more like the shacks on Gilligan’s Island than an airport terminal, dotted with orchids and lotus flowers.
    When we got into our taxi and asked him to take us to Lotus Terrace, our accommodation, he just shrugged and said “I don’t know that one, I’ll drive, you look for it.” Well its a small island but… A tour of the island later and finally we spot it as we drive past it for the umpteenth time (thank goodness we’re on a fixed rate cab fair or we would have been suspicious, as it was we just relaxed and took in the scenes of the island). The villas were down a driveway off the main road, nestled right on the beach. Perfect, we knew we had picked well.
    The lovely and very sweet Rosie, who will keep me in supply of coffee over our stay,  greets us, takes our bags and shows us to our delightful rooms. Everything is beautiful and I look around thinking “I could get used to orchids on my bathmat if I have to,” as Rosie gives us the lay of the land, where to eat, cars etc. (When we leave we try to smuggle her with us- she just laughs, its an old joke, all the guests try to seduce her away from her island home when they leave- no surprise).

Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena PhotographyThailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    It’s late afternoon after our extended cab ride and we’re hungry after our mystery meal on the aeroplane. At Rosie’s suggestion, we trudge (such hard work) down the beach, and I do mean down the beach, along the sand, to the local restaurant on the sand. Part of the walk involves hitching up my skirt and getting my calves wet as we wonder which way the tide is going and whether our path home will be here later. I remember a similar situation on a childhood holiday which has taken on a childlike mythology  and until recently used to visit me in my nightmares. But I’m on holiday and I don’t care about such things as the practicalities of being able to get home. When we find the restaurant we sit outside on the sand and order cocktails and local snacks watching the colours get softer. Sunset over our new adventure.
Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    Back at our villa, we lay claim to “Our Spot” which will be our spot for the next week: a couple of deck chairs and an umbrella between the little pool and what we affectionately come to call the big pool (the ocean).  We drink wine, listen to the waves and watch the sand move as tiny crabs scurry about. We get very comfortable.

    My agenda for the week is simple, it is basically not to move much from this spot. I had planned to read and write, take a few pictures, but really the place is too peaceful, too calm. Our villas are, thankfully, on the other side of the island to the main tourist trek, so sitting on my chair under the umbrella there is not a lot to watch other than the rhythmic waves and the weather. Occasionally a local will wade out to see what the sea will offer up for lunch or check the nets in the morning, but beyond that, the beach is pretty much ours alone. It’s a beautiful beach with coral like sand that massages your feet and gets softer the further out you go until its like walking on a very fine sponge. The water itself is clear and calm, you can see the reefs below as you walk out far with its crisp and sparkly turquoise embracing you. The scene is soft and delicate in the morning, heavy with fog and gets clearer as the sun rises casting shadows of palm trees on the water. Sometimes the weather engulfs the mainland across from us and you can literally sit here and watch the storms move past as they dance along the surface of the water.
    On the first morning we meet our hosts at Lotus Terrace, a gorgeous couple from Vancouver, who offer us the use of their Kayak and local knowledge. On their advice, we select the only tour on the island that we will do: The Five Islands Tour, which turns out to be perfect and a highlight of the trip (thank you). The tour involves being taken out in a traditional long boat by one of the local fishermen to cruise around the five islands off the coast of Samui, and then stopping at a deserted island to do some snorkeling amongst the coral and aquatic gardens. Did I mention that it was only the two of us on the tour. A fresh and cold coconut refreshes us as we race the setting sun back to shore. A quick shower and we are ready to sit and watch the magnificent light show of the setting sun from the best vantage point on the island, cocktails at hand followed by more delectable food than we can possibly muster the energy to eat. We look at all the beautiful food in front of us and wonder who else is coming to dinner.
Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography
 Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    We hire a car and head out occasionally to explore the island, but I am always keen to get back to Our Spot and continue on the path of nothingness. The seduction not to leave the place, to sit and stare at the scene is too high. I am happy only to move in search of the next exquisite Thai meal. When we do venture out it is easy to navigate around the island as most of it is on the exterior outer rim, near the water, why wouldn’t it be, and there is one main road which takes you all around the island and delivers you back where you started. Impossible to get lost on this island- all roads lead home eventually.
Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    Most of our time was spent doing nothing and being surprised just how easy it was not to think about our lives back home, including the children (oh dear, am I allowed to say that aloud!?!). We ease our guilt by promising to bring the children with us next time, the location is perfect for children with its calm deserted beach and gentle waters. We sat quietly with only our own thoughts and the insistant waves, thinking of adventures in relaxation. We leave knowing only one thing for sure and that is that we will return to this idealic setting, to this beautiful place and tranquil pace.

More Postcards from Canada

Here is another postcard from Canada (in no particular order):
BC is putting on a special show for us. We arrived to a city under a blanket and all the Vancouverains
walking around in a gloom. Meanwhile you couldn't remove my cheshire smile with a snow shovel if you tried. We ordered a white christmas and we are defiantly getting one (please don't let the locals know its our fault or they'll be round with a lynch mob).

The house has a postcard out every window, and now that it has stopped snowing for a day we can see what the light is like- constant sunrise until the sun finally gives up trying to rise and pops back into bed just after 4.00. Beautiful light. Not to cold outside, unless your foolish enough to get soaking wet by loading your hood with snow like Lulu, and everywhere is heated inside. Luckily not as stiflingly hot as in Japan, but still something to get used to. Desperate to open a window while we sleep but everything is double glazed. I think we are the only ones driving around Vancouver with our car window open.

The children are loving the snow. Angel woke the first morning, after 11, squealing "It's snowing, it's snowing" with the tone of voice reserved only for christmas morning. However he is very disappointed that the snow is too soft to make a decent snow ball- our only saving grace I think as we can't keep them out of the stuff.

Haven't worked out the Starbucks thing. Theres 2 in every block, which would make total sense if they knew how to make coffee. Ordered a strong double shot, which we then had to get an extra shot put into and then was strangely weak still. Seems they have taken all the coffee flavour out and replaced it with strange flavouring and sweetening things. Under the impression that we spoke the same language as the Canadians-until you ask for a flat white. New found admiration for Australians because Starbucks went bust in Australia. Think I'll open a cafe when I move here and make a killing once I educate the country on what coffee is!! Miss my machine. NB- hot chocolate just as bad- strange mixture of hot water, brown food colouring and icing sugar??
Wondering where Chris and Andy keep their hip flask!!

The Odyssey for a christmas tree has began (reminding me why we bought a fake last year). Its Tuesday and again our mission for the day is to get a crissy tree, again. Failed yesterday as it took all day to dig out the car and driveway after the record breaking snow we got that night. Should have gone Sunday but decided against driving in the snow (Jay is still getting used to the left hand drive).

Went to the festival of lights last night which would have been fun if we had left the children in the car, tonight we are going to try for Stanley Park. Kids loved Science World which we will go back to and spend a wet day there. Had roasted chestnuts from a street corner vendor and ate them in the snow accompanied by Nat King Cole singing "roasted chestnuts in the snow...". Was magical despite Angel's best attempts. (Note to self, next time bring Sukie and leave Angel with the house sitters.)

Loved Japan, found a traditional stretch of shops leading to a huge suburb of temples and park, not nearly enough time to explore. All the food here is laced with loads of sugar, vending machines for absolutely everything including fresh flowers. Everywhere was overheated. On the plane Angel perplexed the hostesses by stripping to his undies and Jay and I removed all we could get away with and still sweated. Meanwhile all the Japanese are rugged up in their overcoats and snow gear under their blankets.

Haven't changed all the locks yet though its on the list. Could someone please hide Chris & Andy's passports.

Sneak Peek- Canada

On the road to Whistler

Stanley Park
Boat Shed in Vancouver

Many clients have been asking when they get to see some of the photos from our trip to
Canada and Japan that we took over Christmas. Of course, being a photographer, I am always to busy sorting other peoples photos to get to mine- I took a million, but it will take me a week to sort out which ones I want to work with let allow finish them. In the meantime here are a few just to show that we really did go.

Here are notes from the Postcards:
Sea to Sky Hwy:- Oh my f***n God.
The Sea to Sky Hwy is aptly named as delivers you straight to heaven after you plunge off the side of a cliff, down the side of a steep mountain and into the depths of the icy ocean below. They warn you about driving on the wrong side of the road in the snow andice- but they don't warn you about being a passenger on the wrong side of the road, in the control seat with no controls. I sit in the drivers seat without my pedals, pressing for my absent brake as the car swings me past the abyss yet again while the sun peaks through just enough to highlight the slippery ice on the road. They say its not the ice you can see that you have to worry about but rather the ice you can't see: Black Ice, the stuff of legends, or in this case nightmares. I can not bring myself to look away, I know there is the most spectacular views passing me by but I must concentrate on the road, or should I say edge of the road. I desperately wish I could shut my eyes but I can't bring myself to do that either. I have never been so terrified, no not terrified but petrified, in all my life. I can liken the experience only to childbirth only without the being torn apart bit.

Our day trip up to Whistler for lunch turned into 3 days. Partly because the thought of driving back after dark along that unlit highway, through the snow, when the temperature drops and the roads become really icy, seems a tad dangerous and the only thing a responsible adult entrusted with two children can do is to stay the night and go down when its safer, and partly because I need a days rest to recover from the ordeal and regain my strength after my adrenaline rush, and I need to put time between the experience of the drive and the memory. Of course the real reason is because I'm just too scared- perhaps it's just easier if I just stay in Whistler.

Like childbirth, I am reward for the ordeal. Whistler is spectacular. The village is large, and there is lots to do apart from ski. Clearly there is a lot for wives of skiers to do to bribe them into allowing their husbands to bring them up when they don't ski- shops and restaurants galore. Fashionable divas walk the streets in their head to foot furs looking like they've never donned a ski suit or have heard of the animal liberation movement for that matter. And of course, more Starbucks.
We find an indoor retreat for children with jumping castles, video games, hockey, putt putt, air hockey etc etc. Just set up by the village as an indoor playground- free. We decide to stay another day as we realise NYE has crept up on us and they do a special "First Night" in the village with special things set up for the kids.

Over coffee I discover that Canadians call flat whites lattes, so now we can order coffees by asking for a latte with two extra shots and we are served a medium strength flat white. Not sure what you would ask for if you actually wanted a latte, luckily I don't need to know, but it amuses me to think of all the Canadians coming to Australia and asking for a latte and actually receiving a latte when what they should be ordering is a flat white, hold the coffee. This mystery solved brings me to the next one which is of course eggs. I think they come out of a carton...

My mini me and I have fun taking photos together when we separate from Lulu and Jay. Both the children got cameras for christmas, so now in our family there is a cacophany of camera shutters clicking and flashes going off which is not nearly as noisy as a family full of saxophone players. Angel and I wander about through the snow taking pictures of this and that, and talking to the locals about the ominous highway (all are sympathetic).

All I can say about the trip back is that Jays tactic for the trip was to have me wind my window down and take photos as we drove slowly down the mountain, (although it didn't feel slow to me, I know that there was a caravan of cars behind us who can testify that it was slow as they sped past us every time the road opened up into two lanes). This only worked for a little while, the while that didn't include the plunging cliffs. We also had the added bonus of a sun that sets for the half of the day that its not rising, directly in our eyes blinding us and obscuring all visibility of the road, but not the edge.